I recently came across a question on Facebook where someone was asking about the safest country to visit in Africa. Lots of people mentioned Rwanda, my answer was Rwanda as well and then I thought to myself — Mmhhh, why not share my own experience about visiting Rwanda?

So, I was in Rwanda in February 2020, just before the world flipped on its head (if you know what I mean) and I got to experience how safe Rwanda is in real-time.

I understand that travelling to Africa can seem daunting to some people outside the continent, especially Westerners because the continent has been portrayed in a negative light by Western media. However, the Africa I live in, and the Africa in the Western media are entirely two different things.

A lot of people from the western world are shocked when they first visit Africa because they can’t believe what their eyes are seeing. They struggle to reconcile what they’re experiencing in real-time with what the Western media has fed them their entire lives.

Before sharing my experience in this beautiful country, I’ll like to share some statistics about Rwanda.

Image: Shutterstock

In 2017, the World Economic Forum ranked Rwanda as the 9th safest country in the world ahead of Portugal, New Zealand, Austria, Sweden, Spain and the Netherlands.

The rankings took into account the crime rate, violence and terrorism and how police responded in helping those who had been victimised.

In 2018, Rwanda was ranked second most secure place in Africa by the World Regulation.

In 2021 Rwanda was ranked no 6 among the top 10 safest countries for solo travellers in the world by usebounce.com. The ranking was mainly made up of European countries, with one Asian country Japan, and Rwanda as the only African country on the list.

So, whether you are a single woman or a single man, a family man or a family woman, the security of the country in which you are going is very crucial and should be taken into consideration.

Rwanda is one of the safest countries in Africa, which is immediately apparent upon arrival in the relaxed and sophisticated capital Kigali. Whether you are looking for calm, nature, entertainment, or innovation, Rwanda offers it all.

Though there’s a lot of security, as in police officers place in certain strategic positions, this doesn’t add tension; but rather the opposite, it gives you a sense calm and protection. 

They are some countries whereby you see a police officer you immediately go into panic mode even when you know you’re innocent, yet you can’t help it but be terrified of police but that’s not the case for Rwanda. 

And I can attest to this because I felt the peace and serenity while I was visiting Rwanda.

Of course, all travel comes with some risks, but Africa is far safer than people might imagine. The continent is much safer now compared to a few decades ago but they are also African countries that are safer than others and Rwanda is on the top list of safest places to visit in Africa.

My Experience in Kigali, Rwanda

While on my visit to Rwanda, one night the Rwandan lady hosting us suggested we take a walk, it was around 10pm at night. I looked at her like she was crazy. I asked her, “are you on a death wish or something.” 

“I’m not going for a walk at night at this time of the night. It’s dangerous for two women to take a walk at night.” I tried to persuade her but she looked at me and laughed and responded. “No, not in Rwanda. Let’s go, you’d enjoy it.” 

Image: Nicky Verd

After some hesitation, the adventure part of me was like — okayyyy! And so we went for a walk. She was showing me places at night, pulling her phone out and taking pictures and each time she took out her phone my heart will skip abit. I was afraid someone will snatch it. 

One of the big surprises for me was to see the streets of Kigali busy with people at night. People just walking around minding their own business. And another thing I noticed with myself as we were walking was that every time I saw a group of men coming towards us, maybe 2 or 3guys, I’ll immediately want to cross over to the other side of the road and she’ll hold me back reassuring me that it was safe. 

And if a car driving pass-by was slowing down abit, I felt like running. The first 20mins of the walk felt like I was on the biggest dare of my life. I was so jumpy, constantly scanning around, looking over my shoulder.

She was baffled at my reactions and I was baffled at her calmness. Well, it was a classic example of projecting — a self-defense mechanism I’m used to even when there’s no danger.

And you might be wondering, but Nicky, why were you so afraid and so jumpy. Well, I live in South Africa. South Africa has the 3rd highest crime rate in the world and the highest rape rate in the world. 

So, hopefully, you understand my panic. We don’t do stuff like that, two women just walking on the street at 10pm at night just minding their business? No! That’s dangerous! 

Well, unless they are on a suicide mission or something. Even walking during the day is still not very safe in South Africa. You should never completely let your guard down when you’re in South Africa.

Eventually, I was finally able to just let my guard down and enjoy the peace and safety in Rwanda. And for the first time in over a decade, I felt so safe. I’ve never felt so safe in my life as I did when I was in Rwanda. 

Rwanda is so safe you can feel it. No matter how guarded you are, you’ll still feel the peace and safety the country has. 

Image: unsplash

So, based on Statistics and personal experience, I can attest that Rwanda is one of the safest travel destinations to visit in Africa. I experienced it in real-time. Rwanda provides a conducive atmosphere for solo travellers and people who walk alone at night.

It’s also important to note that Kigali, the capital of Rwanda is also the cleanest city in Africa. Currently, all non-biodegradable plastics are banned in Rwanda and the country has a monthly day of community cleaning service. 

Recently I was having a conversation with someone here in Johannesburg and mentioned Rwanda and she asked me, what’s that? Is that a country? My eyes nearly popped out and my jaws literally dropped. 

As bizarre as it may sound, they are people who have never heard of Rwanda and they are people who only know about Rwanda in regards to the 1994 genocide. Many are not aware of how the country has recovered and progressed and completely changed its trajectory in the last 25 years or so.

Rwanda’s response to the genocide of 1994 was to pull the country together, rather than further dividing it. ​Rwanda has emerged over the past decade as one of Africa’s most innovative economies. 

Rwanda isn’t only one of the safest countries in Africa but also one of the most innovative countries in Africa. Rwanda’s economic growth and innovation continue to soar. Rwanda aspires to become the leading ICT Hub in Africa by establishing a conducive innovation ecosystem with competitive startups.

Image: NewTimes 

The progress in Rwanda is so amazing it gives you goosebumps. As soon as you step out of the airport, the feeling is out of this world. I’ve written an article about this where I talked about how — Rwanda is Building Africa’s Very Own Silicon Valley.

As with any country, crime is not completely eradicated. So, don’t let your guard completely down. Be cautious. The level of crime is relatively low. Petty theft can still occur. Crimes like pickpockets can happen in crowded places. So be careful. Some people fall victim to crime as a result of their own carelessness not necessarily because the country is full of criminals.

And so, I want you to know that Rwanda is safe. Whether you’re hanging around during the day or at night, it feels extremely safe. You can walk around at night, you might take a motorbike, which maybe isn’t the safest thing. I was terrified when I took it but I had so much fun!

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